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A Link to DNA of Long Ago:

Powderham, One of several castles owned by Courtenay -
            Earl of Devon, Marquis of Exeter, Baron and High Sheriff of Okehampton
, and of Haccombe,

Powderham Castle,
built by Sir Philip Courtenay in the 30 years 1390-1420 A.D.
Still home of Courtenay, Earl of Devon,
for over 600 years.

since the 1100s, including
Okehampton Castle, destroyed by conflict, Tiverton, and Exeter.

   In the late 1200's,
Codnor Castle and the shire of Derby were ruled by Eleanor Courtenay, and her husband Baron Henry de Grey of Codnor.

   During the 1300s, in addition to the castles, more than eight manors and two shires (states) were owned and ruled by the Courtenay nobility.
   This was increased, for a period,  by the appointment as
Duke of Cornwall.
   It was Muriel Courtenay's daughter's marriage with the Baron of Hastings that brought
Hastings Castle, founded in 1066 by William the Conqueror.

   In 1442, Sir Hugh "Le Fitz" Courtenay, through marriage, acquired land in three shires and 6 more manors, including Boconnoc, and was ruler of Haccombe, in addition to Devon shire.

   October 26th, 1485, Sir Edward Courtenay was knighted by the new King Henry VII, for help in battle to dethrone the murderous Richard III. Richard had deposed and killed the young King Edward V and his brother, the Duke of York, and executed the Duke of Buckingham, while taking the Courtenay lands.
   Sir Edward was returned the
Earldom of Devon, land of the entire shire (state) with over 60 manors, 8 boroughs (towns), 9 Hundreds (country subdivisions with courts), plus, the entire Bocconoc Estate  of his father, land and manors in Devon, Somerset, and Dorset shires.

Compared to our country and population today:
Courtenay ruling power and properties, in England alone,
would be equivalent to
owning and governing all of Oklahoma, part of Texas and Missouri, plus
eight cities of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, St. Louis, and Kansas City, plus
70 multi-million-dollar mansions and five castles!
( The only person who exceeded the Earl or Baron in authority was the King or Queen, or Archbishop, in some matters.)

The only ownership and power we have seen in this continent to approximate that of Courtenay rule,
in relative percentage of land area and population,
is that of the Spanish territory of the southwestern U.S., and the French possession of the Louisiana Purchase.

The Courtenay family -
A ruling family of "King-makers" in Europe since
Hugh Capet, King Hugh the Great, in 987 A.D.,
King Louis VI, and
the very first Courtenay,
Sire Athon de Courtenay (985 - 1030 A.D.),
who invented the last name in 1010 A.D.
as he fortified Courtenay, France for his castle in the Monarchy's Isle de France.

Over 1,000 years as Royalty, Nobility, Knights, Bishops, Archbishops, Emperors,
Oxford Chancellors, High Sheriff
leaders of men and countries -
Constantinople, Jerusalem & Edessa (Iraq) during the Crusades,


Courtenay - France
Three torteaux or roundels

The House of Courtenay was descended from Louis VI, King of France in the 12th century.
They were the next branch of the
Capetians after the Bourbons.

Migration to England was with Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152 A.D., when she married King Henry II,
and brought English rule to her third of France, including Calais and Bordeaux.
Renaud de Courtenay became the Lord  of
Okehampton Castle, the largest in Devon, after marrying Hawise de Courcy, whose grandfather Baldwin de Brionne, a general for William the Conqueror, founded the castle, c. 1066.

Courtenay - England
Quarterly 1 & 4 Or three torteaux 2 & 3 Gules a lion rampant or Impaling Gules powdered with billets or a saltire vair Courtenay quartering de Redvers impaling Champernowne.

English Courtenay marriages included with:
Prince Peter I of France,
Margaret de Bohun, granddaughter of King Edward I and
daughter of Humphrey VIII, Earl of Hereford and Essex,
Eleanor de Spencer, granddaughter of King Edward I,
Princess Elizabeth Plantagenet, daughter of King Edward III, and with
Princess Catherine Plantagenet, daughter of King Edward IV.

Marguerite I Capet, Phillipe II d'Evreux, King of Navarre, King Louis XVII,
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Lady Diana, and HRH Prince William,
are all descendants of Amice de Courtenay (1250-1275 A.D.),
Heiress of Conches.

Sir William Courtenay studied Law & served as Chancellor of Oxford University,
Bishop of Hereford, Bishop of London, and
Archbishop of Canterbury (1381).

In a warlike period, Sir Hugh Courtenay II (1327-1349) was armed for his rank at the age of fifteen.
Sir Hugh was the great-grandson of King Edward I, and the grandson of Princess Elizabeth.
He was a young man of extreme personal courage and adroitness in the tilting lists,
hence his election as a founding member, with King Edward III and the Prince,
of the Knighthood
Noble Order of the Garter when he was only 18 years old.
Sir Hugh Courtenay attended the King in his expedition against France in 1346,
with his uncle Sir William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton, and returned to
Eltham Palace in Surrey,
to excel at the jousting tournaments, and receive special awards from the King, in 1347. 

Sir Peter Courtenay (1349-1409), Sir Hugh's younger brother,  was also a Knight
of the
Noble Order of the Garter, limited to only 33 in all the country.
During the English campaign to restore King Pedro to the throne of Castile & Leon,
Peter received knighthood - at the same time with his brother, Sir Philip, and his nephew, Sir Hugh -
from Edward, the
Black Prince, at Vittoria, before the Battle of Najara in 1367.
Sir Peter  was renowned as far as King Charles VI in France for his prowess on the field of combat and in war,
having soundly beaten a celebrated French Knight, Guy de la Tremouille, in 1383.
 In 1388, he was appointed
Principal Chamberlain.  **
In 1398, Sir Peter was appointed by King Richard II as the
Captain of Calais, after the Earl of Nottingham,
England's only remaining control of southwestern France during the Hundred Years War.
Later,  Lord Peter Courtenay became, at King Richard's request,
Constable of the Royal Windsor Castle for life.
He was granted additional lands by King Henry IV, and nominated to the
Privy Council, in 1404.
The valiant Knight and leader died in 1409, and was honored by burial in St. Peter's Cathedral,
in Exeter of Devonshire.
Since he was without children, Sir Peter's nephew Hugh became the 3rd Earl of Devon.



Emperor of Constantinople, Edessa & Jerusalem
(Edessa was on both sides of the Euphrates River in Iraq.)

After commanding armies from France, Sire Pierre I de Courtenay of Conches (1126-1183) & Prince of France,
grandson of King Louis I,  great-grandson of King Philip I, and great-great-grandson of King Henry I Capet
of France, was
Emperor over the Turkish Empire and the Middle East during the Crusades,
 and was awarded a second coat of arms with the rule.
Empress was Yolande of Flanders. Their daughter Yolande was Queen of Hungary,
daughter Amice was
Heiress of Conches,
and their son, Baudouin, succeeded him as

This, with France and England, represented  the third branch of the
realm of power and property, encompassing a large part of the known world,
at that time.


* Edited from George Frederick Beltz's
"Memorials of the Most Noble Order of the Garter" (1861).

See also "A Genealogical History of the Noble and Illustrious Family of Courtenay" by Ezra Cleaveland.

**  By the late fourteenth century the Chamberlain was one of the five main officers of the Royal government,
along with the
Chancellor, the Treasurer, the Keeper of the Privy Seal, and the Steward.

Eltham Palace, where Sir Hugh Courtenay jousted as a foremost Knight of the Realm,
to receive honours from the King & Queen.

It was at Eltham where Sir Hugh, at only 20,
was presented a special white hood,
encrusted with large pearls, by the King.

After Sir Hugh died an untimely death at 22,
Queen Philippa visited his tomb at Ford Abbey
September 1, 1349,
and laid a special cloth of gold as a tribute.


Eltham Palace is a royal medieval stone fortress, with a strong rectangular moat.
The Great Hall was built for King Edward IV as a dining hall for the court. 
Eight miles north-west is The Tower of London.

Courtneys came to the New World in the 1600's,
37 years
before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock,
sailing from the Port of Plymouth in
Devon with Sir Walter Raleigh,
and on the famous warship "The Golden Hinde" with Sir Francis Drake. 
Both were born and lived in
The Courtenay family and Earl of Devon were supportive of Sir Walter Raleigh's efforts
to establish a first colony, of 100, to create what was later known as North Carolina.
When the colony got into a deadly crisis, it was Sir Francis Drake who rescued them one year later.

             Sir Walter Raleigh                   Sir Francis Drake, circa 1577

On Sir Francis Drake's secret exploratory voyage to Vancouver Island in 1579,
under the sponsorship and order of Queen Elizabeth I,
his ship "The Golden Hinde"
anchored in Comox harbor.
There, the town was named
Courtenay, in British Columbia.
Afterward, back home, Drake defeated the entire Spanish armada in his famous ship.

Courtneys moved West in wagons as pioneers, and still own ranches and property in
Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and elsewhere.

This author is a direct descendent of the Missouri Courtneys.
Perhaps now, one may understand why I'm not too impressed with small property
ownership here in the States, or the power and positive action of everyday politicians!

Hopefully, the mitochondria DNA and the "Y" chromosomes inherited here will
allow me and my heirs to think and view on the high plane of these ancestors.

Exeter Castle is an interesting Norman stone ringwork fortress, founded by Baldwin de Brionne. The entrance with its projecting barbican, is an 11th century square three-storey gatehouse, with above the gate-passage, chambers lit by unusual triangular-headed windows. Its strong earthworks and curtain wall are flanked by square and round towers, which command the north-west corner of old town wall. Sadly in the 18th century, all the remaining medieval buildings inside the walls were leveled, to make way for the Georgian Assize County Courts. 8 miles south is Powderham Castle and 15 miles north is Tiverton Castle.    


Tiverton Castle
is a Norman stone fortress, founded in 1106 by Richard de Redvers. Early in the 14th century, Hugh de Courtenay transformed the castle, by encasing a quadrangular court with a curtain wall. Flanked on the four angles by towers, with the square two-storey gatehouse flanking the east curtain wall. After Civil War slighting, only three sides of the court and the two southern angle towers remain. The round tower with a later conical roof is complete but the larger square tower is ruinous, they stand against the steep banks of the River Exe, with the other three sides originally having wet defenses. 15 miles south is Exeter Castle.


Okehampton Castle is an impressive stone motte and bailey fortress, founded by Baldwin de Brionne. The Norman motte with its rock-cut ditch, supports an 11th century two storey square keep, to which a rectangular block was added in the 14th century. The bailey is entered through inner and outer square gatehouses, with a narrow barbican passage in-between. Inside there are the remains of lodgings, kitchens, a chapel, a hall and a solar. The castle, the largest in Devon, stands against the steep banks of the River Okement, with originally wet defences on the other sides. 8 south-west is Lydford Castle and 19 miles south-west is Launceston Castle.

(Photos & castle history courtesy

Courtnay, Mathis, Tillman, York, Pevey & Foulks Family Background

Author's Bio


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